Sound Bites - Issue #4 / December 2013
This Month's Topics:
- Happy Holidays & a “Living Well” New Year!
- Five Tips to Eat Healthy For the Holidays
- Staying Fit During the Holidays
- Brian Leng: Photography Through a Lens of Passion
Career & Contract Ed.
Happy Holidays & a “Living Well” New Year!
We at SMC Community Education want to wish all of you a very happy holiday season and thank you for your support throughout the year.
Getting an early start on our “Living Well” theme for the New Year, we offer in this issue of our newsletter two terrific articles from two outstanding instructors on staying physically and emotionally fit during the holiday season – and beyond.
If you haven’t already, we hope that you sign up for one or more of our 60-plus courses in a wide range of subjects we are offering this winter. We’re proud of the role we play in enriching the lives of our community, providing new experiences, and launching new and meaningful careers in a changing economy.
To register, call (310) 434-3400 or go to http://commed.smc.edu.
Again, our sincerest wishes for a very happy holiday season and a fulfilling new year!
Director of Career & Contract Education
Five Tips to Eat Healthy For the Holidays
Instructor Christine Oppenheim, who will be teaching an "Intro
to Healthy Eating" class in the spring, offers these tips for
eating well during the holidays. Oppenheim is a plant-based
personal chef and culinary instructor dedicated to preparing
fresh, organic foods to satisfy all palates, with an emphasis
on creating alternatives for common food allergies or
We all know that the holidays are filled with lots of temptations
and that eating healthy can sometimes be a daunting task. It’s
easy to overindulge when tasty treats are surrounding us at
every turn. However, with a few simple tips, we can avoid the
post-holiday guilt (and bloat!) and stick to eating healthy through
- Think before you eat - Eating isn’t a competition (unless you’ve entered one, and I don’t recommend doing that.) Don’t just rush through your meal. Take a moment to give thanks, whatever that means to you, before chowing down. Eat slowly, and chew your food well before swallowing. Take time to enjoy and savor every bite. You’ll eat less, experience flavors more and it will be easier on your digestion so you’ll feel less bloated and gassy after your meal.
- Scope out the spread - If you’re at a holiday party, do a walk around the buffet table before starting to fill up your plate. Decide what looks most appetizing to you and which dishes you’d prefer to pass on. Start your meal with lighter fare like fresh veggies, fruit and crisp greens so you’re starting to feel full before indulging on the heavier stuff. Use a smaller plate and take smaller portions. You can always go back for seconds of the stuff you really like! Plus, the less you eat now, the more leftovers later.
- Plan your eating for the day - If you know you’re going to be having an indulgent dinner, eat a lighter meal in the morning. Perhaps start off your day with a green juice or smoothie. If you’re the one cooking dinner, lighten up the meal with simply prepared, but delicious foods. For example, try roasting green beans with shallots, instead of making a creamy green bean casserole. Make mashed potatoes with a 50/50 combo of cauliflower and potatoes. Puree them with vegetable broth instead of oil, cream and/or butter, and maybe even add roasted garlic and fresh herbs for extra flavor and flare.
- Eat before you shop - Unless you do all of your shopping online, you’re likely to end up at the mall at least once during the holiday season. While there, you’ll be tempted by samples of cakes, cookies and chocolates, the lure of lattes, and the scents of grease and stir fry. Eat before you head out to shop to avoid the unhealthy food court fare. If you’re shopping between meals, bring healthy snacks like grapes, crackers or carrot sticks so that hunger doesn’t get the best of you. Finally, plan your mall route so that you don’t pass by the food court or the Starbucks and you’ll be better able to fight any cravings by not allowing yourself to be tempted by them in the first place.
- Drink plenty of water - Did you know that water is great for battling cravings? If you are craving something or feel a desire to snack, drink a glass of water before giving in to the temptation. Sometimes cravings are our body’s way of triggering that we are on the verge of dehydration, or that we need some comfort or distraction. If you still feel hungry after drinking a glass or two of water, go for that snack, but there’s a good chance you were just thirsty, or maybe even bored. For an added bonus, add a tablespoon of chia seeds to your water. These little superfoods are loaded with antioxidants and minerals your body needs, and because they expand in your stomach, they’ll help curb your cravings and will leave you feeling full.
Staying Physically & Emotionally Fit During the Holidays
Instructor Leslie Porter, who will be teaching a Pilates class in
the spring, says it is important to be mindful of physical and
emotional health during what can be a stressful period – the
holidays. She has been a dedicated instructor and practitioner
of yoga, meditation, and Pilates for well over a decade.
The holidays can be tricky because there is so much yummy
food around. Even though it can be a joyful time, for some,
it can also be a very difficult one. Try the following tips to help
you keep your weight down and to keep your energy and
- Keep moving: I know that we all get busy with family time,
cooking, visitors, etc. However, it is not an excuse to get
lazy or forget your health. Make sure you are exercising:
walking, practicing yoga or Pilates, running, interval training,
keeping your metabolism up, especially the days after the indulging.
You can even have your family members or visitors join you on your walks or put on music at your holiday party and encourage dancing. A study conducted by the U.S. government found adults gained, on average, more than a pound of body weight during the winter holidays - and that they were not at all likely to shed that weight the following year. The good news is that the people who reported the most physical activity through the holiday season showed the least weight gain. Some even managed to lose weight.”
- Set Boundaries – On your plate and with the company you keep: Be aware of your portions. We consume more calories on Thanksgiving than you can imagine. Average calorie intake at that meal alone is about 4,500 when you really (depending on your weight) need 1,300 to 1,700 a day. Isn't that crazy?! This doesn't mean you deprive yourself of treats; it means you modify the mount of treats you consume. For example, eat healthy 90% of the time. For me, this means I will be including more than yams and stuffing on my dinner plate and probably not go for seconds and thirds.
- I don't know your family. I know mine well and some of them really know which buttons of mine to push that drains my energy. I make sure I am taking space, breathing, meditating, connecting with nature, and connecting with people who do not drain me. If you don't feel comfortable, excuse yourself (maybe this is a good time to walk for a few minutes to do step #1). You may need to change the subject or say "No, thank you." It's the holidays, but it doesn't mean you have to be a doormat and to only give to others; it also means to give to yourself, and cherish your heart and needs.
If you cannot relate to the above experience and your entire family brings you joy and no one drains you, enjoy them. What a blessing.
- Eat Fruits and Veggies: If your meal begins with crackers, dips, guacamole, and veggies, eat the veggies! You will have plenty of starch like stuffing and yams on your dinner plate. Eating vegetables before the meal will help you consume fewer calories during the meal.
Remember, you are a gift. Though times can be difficult, remember the things that make you happy and bring you joy.
Brian Leng: Photography Through a Lens of Passion
Brian Leng has been teaching photography classes and leading
Southern California photo excursions through SMC Community
Education since 2003. This winter he is leading two photo
safaris: “Night Lights @ Santa Monica Pier” and “Photographing
Watts Towers & Heritage Square Museum.” He has also led
photo tours to the Getty Museum, the Channel Islands and
Los Angeles via Metro Rail.
A photographer with 30 years of advertising and corporate
photography on location and in the studio, he specializes in
photographing people in environments as well as people with
products in a studio setting. A college-level photography
educator with more then 20 years of experience, he teaches
courses in digital single-lens reflex (DSLR), color, composition,
light, and basic digital photography.
Although you teach many different photography courses, you are perhaps best known for your photo field trips all over Southern California, including two coming up in January. Why do you lead these tours and what is special about them?
My feelings are two-fold. First, I find students learn faster and more intently when they take a “hands-on approach” to learning. Secondly, they retain more valuable information when taught in an interesting, creative and fun environment.
The two community education classes that I will be teaching in January are special in my opinion as they are a part of Los Angeles’ short history compared to the rest of the country. Born and raised in downtown Los Angeles in the 60’s, I have this innate curiosity about the historic past of Los Angeles. In its architecture, deserts, and urban downtown, Los Angeles is rich in photographic color and texture. Notable is its wonderful Art deco design of Union Station and the Bradbury Building of the 1900’s compared to the hi-tech Disney Concert Hall of today.
I believe that photography and history go hand-in-hand and I strongly feel that it’s a major factor in learning the creative side to photography as well as the technical intricacies that photography untimely has.
You bring a lot of talent and experience to your class. Is there a particular approach or philosophy you bring to the classroom?
Using the Metro Rail System is what I call the “moving classroom”
where I can literary point out different photographic compositions
and lighting situations as I see them as we travel from one
location to the other.
Metro Rail is also a good way of keeping everyone together as
well as allowing the students to interact and learn from each
other. I have also found that many of my students have not
experienced riding Metro Rail, which eases the fear and tension
that most people have about riding the trains, as well as
introduces to them being a Metro Rail rider.
I prefer to teach outdoors versus the traditional classroom
setting as it brings me closer to my students in a relaxed and
unconventional teaching situation and style. The educator-student
relationship means a lot to me and is what keeps me enthused
One of my photo students from 1992 gave me, at the completion of the class, a coffee mug that bore the inscription, “When you teach, you touch a life forever.” I will never forget that gift, and its saying is so true.
What do you hope your students will come away with?
What I hope my students take home after being in my class is more love for the creative photographic process in whatever subject we are photographing as well as new technical abilities that will ultimately take them to their next level of photography.
What are the rewards for you as an instructor?
For me, the satisfaction comes from knowing that I have given to someone my gift of passion for what I love, history and photography, as well as being a catalyst in their own personal photography goals and the future of their photography.
Tell us an anecdote or two about your students or classes or tours that are particularly memorable.
When I’m in my “rolling classroom,” my No. 1 concern is for the safety of my students. I know that when you are so into what you are photographing, you are distracted and lose track of where the rest of the class has gone. So I make sure everyone has brought a cell phone with them to class and if they don’t have one, they need to find someone who does and to stick with that person just in case they get separated from the class. I explain it as the “buddy system.” But I tell them if you get separated from “your buddy,” you are on your own! Fortunately, this has never happened. (knock on wood!). I was once told by one woman that it was so nice to not have to worry about where or how we are going since that is my job, so that all she needs to do is to concentrate on what she is photographing. Maybe that’s why I feel like such a mother duck leading her ducklings!
What are your personal favorite images that you have shot over the years?
The kind of images that I like to take now are images that are graphic looking in nature where composition and balance become more important then the subject matter and not the literal object. The way the light plays on the subject or object also intrigues me. I have found that the first thing I notice is the lighting, like a moth drawn to the flame.
When I was photographing professionally, I was photographing all week long and usually for someone else. The problem was that I never felt like picking the camera up on the weekends. When planning a class, I would need to scout the location by photographing the location. It was then I started to fall back into photographing for myself. It really felt so good to not have a layout to follow and to not photograph something for a client. It was just pure pleasure of creating an image once again, just like it felt when I first got into photography.
Which photographers, famous or not, do you admire the most? Why?
There are many photographers that I admire. Commercial photographers like Richard Avedon, Annie Leibovitz, and Pete Turner. In nature photography, Ansel Adams, who has such beautiful black-and-white landscapes. The tonal ranges from highlight to the shadows are magnificent. I just love some of his images of Yosemite during the different seasons. I admire photojournalists like Sebastião Salgado, who travels to Third World countries and photographs the human sprit as well as beautiful black-and-white landscapes of the vast countryside from above. Salgado has published some of his best work in an oversize book that sells for $4,000! To me Salgado is the epitome of a true photojournalist who photographs for the love of photography and has a passion that is overwhelmingly inspiring to me.
Photography has changed dramatically in the past decade with the advent of digital and phone cameras. What do you see for the future of photography?
My photographic beginning and training was in the use of film and I never imagined it ever changing. When digital was just beginning in photography, the quality was so bad that I never thought it would overtake film ever. Film had so much more quality and resolution that I felt it was impossible for any other type of media to compete with it. But here we are, 30 years later, and I’m eating my words!
There had never been any major changes or advancement in the way an image was captured other then the invention of color film in the 50’s. So I thought that it was inconceivable that anything or anyone would ever knock the mighty Kodak from its lofty perch!
The quality of the digital image has truly surpassed film. Film still has much more resolution than the digital image, but the many new advantages that digital imaging has over film outweighs the quality differences.
The camera phone was totally unexpected by me. I am totally blown away by the technology, which will be ongoing and has changed the way ordinary people look at photography. There are so many different apps for the cellphone that gives the user the ability to make changes and alter the image and that brings one’s creativity to a level on par with professional photographers. Just the other day an old high school friend shared her camera photographs with me. What she had captured using her cellphone were ordinary photos, but using the apps available to create such incredible images, I was blown away!
To say the least, digital photography is here to stay and the limits are endless with technology getting better and better. Future advancements are only a few short months away. What will the next surprise or improvement be?
As to the future of photography, it too is endless, but there is one lingering puzzle that film has over the digital image, and that is “archivalness?” We know that film can be archived, but the digital image? I guess we will just have to wait to see what the outcome will be.
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